The prospect of strike action at Johnston Press-owned titles in Lancashire moved closer today after the company announced that 18 subs are being made redundant.
A centralised ‘content design unit’ is to be created in Preston to serve both the Gazette, Blackpool, and the Preston-based Lancashire Evening Post.
The move will mean an overall net reduction of 20 sub-editors from the current 38-strong production operation spread across the two centres.
Currently 24 sub-editors are employed at the existing Preston subbing hub and 14 at the Blackpool hub, both of which were created a year ago following a previous shake-up which resulted in 12 job losses.
North West divisional managing director Margaret Hilton said: “As a result of the introduction of the new editorial content management system a detailed review of how the new workflows will affect current organisation structures has been completed.
“It is therefore proposed that a single content design unit will be created in Preston. This unit would be responsible for the design and delivery of all bespoke pages for all titles in Preston, Wigan, Burnley, Blackpool, Lancaster and Morecambe. In addition some news desk areas across the division will be strengthened.”
The union’s assistant northern organiser Laurence Shaw said today that the latest move made full-blown strike action more likely.
HTFP has learned that of the 18 new roles to be created, eight will be based in Preston including a head of design, deputy head of design and six other roles.
The other ten new production roles will be attached to newsdesks in various local JP centres across Lancashire, including three at Wigan, two at Preston and two at Blackpool.
It is understood that there have been two requests for voluntary redundancy from Blackpool, but none so far from Preston. No decisions have yet been made about the selection process.
The NUJ chapels at Blackpool and Preston are expected to meet tomorrow lunchtime to consider their next move.
Mr Shaw said: “No-one has been under any illusions about what Atex means but we are now seeing the reality of it which is massive cuts in jobs.”
Johnston Press is now entering a formal consultation period which it says will examine ways of mitigating the effects on staff.
Experiencerequired (31/03/2010 17:07:25)
All so miserably predictable. And if the Lancashire Evening Past is anything to go by, the Atex system just means mediocrity is king. No wonder they’re losing readers hand over fist. It looks awful, there are mistakes galore and I’ve seen better pictures in a year seven school magazine.
Veryfedup (01/04/2010 09:43:32)
So when will staff in Leeds learn their fate?
Pies (01/04/2010 10:49:00)
When will newspapers managements look at the dreadful state of the nation’s papers and realise that the public will not accept shoddy products. Losing subs means quality will plummet.
Perhaps Johnson should go into the brewing industry. Sorry they couldn’t organise a …. up